Multiple media reports say University of Oregon football coach Chip Kelly, who won the Fiesta Bowl Thursday night over Kansas State, is close to reaching an agreement to become head coach of the Cleveland Browns, ex-Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren’s former team. For fans of the Washington Huskies, this amounts to the single greatest piece of news in more than a decade, better even than the hiring of Steve Sarkisian in 2009, or beating Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl two years ago.
Under the 49-year-old Kelly, the Ducks have gone 46-7 over the past four years, have owned the Pac-10/12 Conference and have utterly dominated Washington, winning every game Kelly coached (Washington has not defeated Oregon sine 2003). With Kelly remaining as Oregon’s head coach, this negative trend isn’t likely to change, relegating Washington to second-tier status in the Northwest.
But with Kelly apparently moving on to the NFL, Washington, which has been unable to compete with the Ducks since Kelly came aboard, will finally have an opportunity – although no guarantee — to return to the exalted status it once enjoyed.
Washington fans won’t like to hear it, but Kelly’s tenure at Oregon has been far more impressive, from a won-loss perspective, and a high-quality bowl perspective, than the Don James era at Washington, considered the best in modern UW annals.
As matters stand, Washington cannot successfully compete in football with Oregon. But with Kelly moving to the NFL, the Huskies might have a chance at returning to the elite of Pac-12 programs.